Toyota Corolla is among the best of the compact sedans: reliable and economical, yet refined and comfortable. The 2005 Corolla line sees the addition of a sporty new XRS model, while the entire line gets some enhancements. All 2005 Corollas feature a restyled front fascia and redesigned tail lamps.
A Corolla LE equipped with the optional leather interior almost feels like a miniature luxury car, a baby Lexus. For 2005, the Corolla LE gets a Lexus-like Optitron center cluster meters along with fabric-covered sun visors and center console lid. A new JBL audio system with eight speakers is available on the LE grade.
One of our few complaints about the Corolla line was that the S model offered more show than go. The new XRS model addresses this with a sports suspension and a 170-horsepower 1.8-liter engine. Toyota says the Corolla XRS offers exceptional throttle response throughout its broad power band and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than 8 seconds.
New safety options for all 2005 Toyota Corolla sedan models include side curtain airbags with seat-mounted side airbags and a vehicle stability control system (VSC), the latter designed to eliminate skidding. This is in addition to optional anti-lock brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, which improve steering control in an emergency stopping situation and enhance braking stability and effectiveness.
Cloth or leather, the seats are comfortable and supportive. Big heating and air conditioning controls, simple, straightforward radio controls, well-designed cup holders, and plenty of cubbies for storing stuff make for a convenient interior. Getting in and out of this four-door sedan is easy and the back seat is surprisingly roomy and comfortable.
The standard four-cylinder engine revs smoothly and delivers good acceleration performance. Corolla earns an EPA-estimated 32/41 mpg City/Highway when equipped with a manual transmission. Both the manual and the automatic transmissions offer smooth shifting, and the manual is very easy to operate. All models have a smooth, comfortable ride and responsive handling. The Toyota Corolla XRS is designed to kick it up a notch.
Toyota Corolla comes in one body style, a four-door sedan (not counting the Matrix). The base CE, the S, and the luxurious LE come with a 130-horsepower 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine; XRS gets 170-horsepower engine. Prices for most models represent an increase of $110 over 2004.
The 2005 Corolla CE sedan is available with a five-speed manual transmission ($13,680) or a four-speed automatic ($14,480). CE comes standard with air conditioning (with an air filter), AM/FM/CD stereo system, power steering, tilt steering column, tachometer, intermittent wipers, digital clock, outside temperature gauge, trunk lamp, and a dome light with delay.
The Toyota Corolla S offers the manual ($14,725) or automatic ($15,525) and features sporty styling cues such as smoked headlight lens extenders, integrated fog lamps, and an aerodynamic body package with color-keyed front and rear underbody spoilers, rocker panel extensions, and rear mud guards. It also gets wider 195/65R15 tires. Inside, the S gets a unique cloth interior, a sporty tachometer, chrome accents, and a nice leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The S model gets vertical seat-height adjustment, power door locks, power mirrors, and mirror-mounted map lights. Power windows with keyless entry and cruise control are available as an optional package.
Corolla LE offers the manual ($14,890) or automatic ($15,690). The LE adds remote keyless entry, power windows, halogen headlamps, and variable intermittent wipers. The LE gets body-colored door handles, lacks the sporty body cladding of the S and looks the better for it. In place of the S model's sporty interior finish, the LE gets wood-like trim and upgraded cloth seating surfaces. An optional leather package ($900) is available for the LE that gives the car a luxurious feel and includes cruise control. Aluminum wheels ($390) are available, which improve the appearance of the LE and should improve its handling slightly.
Anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution ($300) and side-impact airbags ($250) are optional on most models, but can help avoid accidents or reduce injuries in the event of a crash. Other options include cruise control ($250) and a sunroof ($750).
The new Toyota Corolla XRS ($17,455) is powered by a 170-horsepower 1.8-liter mated to a six-speed manual transmission. The XRS features a sport-tuned suspension with revised steering and 16-inch aluminum alloy wheels and Michelin performance tires, an upgrade from the standard 15-inch wheels on all other Corolla grades. Special interior and exterior trim distinguishes the XRS. Additional standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes with tire pressure monitors, front and rear disc brakes, and cruise control.